Joshua Bowling, Arizona Republic
Published 8:20 a.m. ET June 11, 2021 | Updated 9:01 a.m. ET June 11, 2021
A Mattel-branded theme park with Hot Wheels and Thomas the Tank Engine attractions is planned alongside Crystal Lagoons Island Resort, a massive water park flanked by hotels, restaurants and entertainment, in Glendale’s sports and entertainment district.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday kicked off the project just south of State Farm Stadium, near 95th Avenue and Loop 101, that is expected to open before Arizona hosts its next Super Bowl in 2023.
The water park was announced last year, with the addition of the theme park unveiled Thursday. A Hot Wheels-themed roller coaster, go-karts and a Thomas and Friends-themed indoor theme park with a “life-sized” Thomas the Tank Engine electric passenger train were listed among the attractions.
“It’s just going to be phenomenal,” City Manager Kevin Phelps said. “There are going to be theaters, there’s going to be racetracks, there’s going to be rollercoasters.”
2 parks in 1 location
The Mattel theme park is being developed under the same umbrella as the water park.
The longtime toy manufacturer in 2019 announced plans to create in-person attractions.
The company behind Crystal Lagoons water park, which goes by the same name, unveiled its Glendale project in September. The company has other water parks around the world, including Dubai, Egypt, Japan and Chile.
Crystal Lagoons will include:
- An 11-acre resort-style water park with paddleboards, boogie boards and scuba diving gear.
- Two hotels with a combined 650 rooms.
- Aerophile’s Aerobar, a venue that will serve food and drinks at 130 feet off the ground.
- A 4D theater and a “fly theater,” similar to the “Soarin’ Around the World” attraction at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
- A massive balloon that will take visitors nearly 400 feet into the air.
“It’s not (just) a water park … it’s going to be second to none in the state,” Mayor Jerry Weiers said.
The pair of parks would go up on land where an Ikea furniture store was formerly planned.
Glendale plans to waive $1 million in permitting fees and give the theater, hotel, retail spaces and concession vendors a property tax break, although specifics haven’t yet been hammered out, Phelps said.
Race to open ahead of Super Bowl LVII
The project is targeted to open in late 2022, in time for out-of-state visitors arriving for Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in 2023.
Phelps said Crystal Lagoons and the Mattel theme park will go hand-in-hand in continuing to transform the area into a constant, year-round destination — not just a spot for sports and concerts at State Farm Stadium, where the Arizona Cardinals play, and Gila River Arena, where the Arizona Coyotes play.
City Councilmember Joyce Clark, whose district includes Westgate and the Crystal Lagoons project, called the development “the most significant project in Glendale since the arena opened in 2003 and the stadium opened in 2006.”
The area has continued to fill out since Glendale last hosted the Super Bowl in 2015, including more hotels, restaurants, a casino and a Topgolf venue.
“The people who were here in 2015 … they’re going to be absolutely shocked by what they see,” Phelps said.
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